Covering over 25 million acres of land, California's "factories in the fields" produce two-thirds of the nation's fruits, vegetables and nuts. Much of this abundance comes by way of meticulously managed arrays of nascent seedlings peeking through plastic pathways along rolling hillsides bathed in fog. We give little thought to the sustainability of the rich soil, favorable growing climate, as well as the scarce water resources, technical innovations and human labor that make this possible.
Fertile Ground pays homage and yet confronts these wonderous “factories in the field”; the growing conditions, the farmers and laborers, and the ingenuity, experimentation and innovation that generates such abundance and beauty. Our photographic approach builds on the groundbreaking New Topographics of Robert Adams, Lewis Baltz and others who introduced the idea that anthropogenic landscapes embody both intrinsic beauty and cultural significance. More recent work by Mark Klett, Robert Dawson and their contemporaries continues to inspire this conversation about the artistic and societal lessons to be learned from the bucolic and yet hyper-functional scenes that surround us in fields of the American West.